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An overview of the institution of adoption through history

The Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs found that forced adoptions predominantly took place between andalthough it also examined documents and received testimony about forced adoptions that occurred outside this time period. The Senate Inquiry Report estimated that betweenandadoptions took place between and ; was the first year for which the Committee found records. The records of other states and territories were not available.

The Committee found that the records they examined had been poorly kept — for example, they did not include details of how or why an adoption took place or whether consent to the adoption was given willingly. This means it is impossible to determine exactly how many forced adoptions took place. Nonetheless, it is known that tens of thousands of mothers, fathers, adopted persons and their families have been affected, with the consequences of forced adoptions continuing to ripple through the generations.

Forced adoptions occurred under a variety of circumstances. They were carried out by doctors, nurses, social workers and religious figures. Many parents, for example, refused emotional and financial support to their daughter and grandchild. Forced adoptions took place through hospitals, maternity homes and adoption agencies, both secular and religious, government funded and private.

  1. ASFA emphasized the importance of safety and permanency for children and established specific timelines to limit children lingering in foster care, and required that termination of parental rights be initiated for many children in placement for more than fifteen months.
  2. From to agencies continued a trend toward offering and encouraging more open adoptions. This study investigated group differences in adolescent adjustment by adoption status and adoption subtype in a national sample, in contrast to group differences based on developmental stage or gender.
  3. It is suggested that future research may benefit from targeting variables that influence variability in adoption adjustment.
  4. It is very important to note that Ireland did not have adoption legislation in place until 1952, unlike our nearest neighbours who had introduced legislation in the aftermath of the First World War.
  5. Post Adoption Issues An analysis of child behavior problems in adoptions in difficulty. Across all groups of children in the sample, however, long stays in care were the norm.

A number of these institutions have since closed or been renamed, making it difficult to find records. Legislation Legislation regarding adoption was, and continues to be, a matter for state governments.

However, in the Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory, adoption was covered by Commonwealth legislation passed prior to these jurisdictions attaining self-government in and respectively.


Secrecy provisions were common in adoption legislation until reforms in the s. The legal effect of adoption was to sever relations between parent and child.

  1. With a random sample of Canadian respondents, this study combines fixed alternative and open-ended questions and considers community evaluations of open adoption, birth reunions, and disclosure of confidential information. The 13 couples interviewed for the study used insemination, adoption or a combination of both to become parents in the context of their current relationships.
  2. A nationwide survey of adoption agencies was conducted to examine their policies, practices, and attitudes with regard to lesbian and gay prospective adoptive parents.
  3. Based upon a developmental deviance hypothesis, this study hypothesized that early adolescent different-race adoptees would fair better across measures of academic performance, familial relationships, psychological adjustment, and physical health than their middle and late adolescent counterparts. ASFA emphasized the importance of safety and permanency for children and established specific timelines to limit children lingering in foster care, and required that termination of parental rights be initiated for many children in placement for more than fifteen months.

The rights and responsibilities of parenting were legally transferred to the adoptive parents, including the right to name the child. This varied from three to seven days in each state. The legislation also specified that consent to an adoption could be revoked by the consenter most commonly the mother within 30 days, or until the adoption order was made.

In practice, the laws were not properly enforced, allowing illegal forced adoptions to take place. Many women who have received their records have found their file was marked BFA, which meant Baby For Adoption, upon admission to hospital or a maternity home, regardless of their intention. Consent and revocation There are numerous accounts of mothers signing consent for adoption papers before the legally required time after the birth, while sedated, without having their rights explained to them or when they were under the age of consent.

Other mothers recount being tricked, believing they were signing a form to register the birth or authorise a medical procedure when it was actually the adoption consent. There are other instances of mothers who do not recall signing a consent form and allege that their signatures were forged.

In some cases, women were lied to about their rights to revoke consent. Many mothers report returning to the hospital or adoption agency to revoke their consent within the 30—day period and being told that the child had already been adopted. In numerous cases, an adoption order had not yet been made, the baby was still in the hospital, adopted home or institution, and the mother had the legal right to collect her child.

Many other mothers report they were never informed of a revocation period and were devastated when they discovered years later that they had not known about this opportunity to reclaim their child.

Coercion and physical force The Senate Inquiry Report found that mothers were made to feel powerless and undeserving of their child. In many cases, girls were sent to unmarried mothers homes to live until after the birth of their child, usually far away from their family, the father and their community.

This sense of isolation added an overview of the institution of adoption through history the disempowerment they felt. They were often made to perform hard physical labour, and were emotionally and physically abused. In some instances, they were victims of sexual abuse by doctors or others in positions of power.

They were told they had committed a terrible sin about which they should be ashamed, that they would be unable to raise their child, and that they were undeserving of their child. Accompanying this bullying, and an essential part of the coercive tactics employed by social workers, doctors and nurses, was the constant message that a married couple would be able to give the child a better life.

Mothers were consistently told that their babies would be raised in loving and financially secure marital homes that they would never be able to provide. Mothers were often physically restrained during birth — shackled to the bed or held down by a nurse — and their view of the baby obstructed by a sheet or pillow.

Immediately following birth, the baby would be removed from the room. These babies were kept in a separate room and the mothers were not allowed to see or hold them.

Some women report having the full support of their parents to keep their baby. However, parental support was often ignored by hospital or maternity home staff and by case workers, and adoptions arranged.

Many more mothers recount having insufficient or no emotional and financial support from their families. Parents frequently thought that having an illegitimate child in the family, an overview of the institution of adoption through history even the community knowing their daughter was pregnant, would ruin their reputation. In addition to refusing financial support, parents refused emotional support, telling the mother that she was unfit to raise a child.

In others, the father was unaware that his girlfriend was pregnant. In many cases, the father was committed to his relationship with the mother and to raising their child together.

Overview of forced adoption practices in Australia

The fathers, like the mothers, were routinely judged as having committed a sin and being underserving of raising the child.

Many fathers were just as unaware of their rights as the mothers. If he was not registered, the father had no more choice in the adoption of the child than the mother. Adopted persons Adopted persons affected by forced adoption have had a variety of life experiences, both positive and negative.

Many have had loving and fulfilling relationships with their adoptive families. Others report emotional or physical isolation, neglect or abuse, and extremely difficult life situations in their adoptive families. Many have believed that their mother abandoned them and had never loved them. The majority of adopted persons, regardless of the positive or negative relationship with their adoptive families, say that they have experienced a range of negative issues as a result of their adoption.

This is particularly so for people who found out late in their life that they were adopted. They frequently report a strong sense of betrayal, have problems forming lasting or meaningful relationships, experience feelings of isolation or abandonment, and suffer identity issues.

Accessing adoption records Difficulties accessing adoption records and a lack of information about the circumstances of adoptions have meant that many adopted persons have been unable to learn the identity of their mother and father or whether their adoption was forced.

For adopted persons trying to manage health issues, a lack of records, or inaccurate records, creates significant problems.

  • These babies were kept in a separate room and the mothers were not allowed to see or hold them;
  • A happy ending is not guaranteed;
  • This analysis begins with the argument that conceptual ambiguity and related measurement inconsistencies have surfaced in the growing number of studies about open adoption because the term subsumes a range of possibilities of contact between birth and adoptive families, as well as other sources of variation which affect the developing post-placement relationship between members of these two families;
  • The majority of adopted persons, regardless of the positive or negative relationship with their adoptive families, say that they have experienced a range of negative issues as a result of their adoption;
  • Investigating whether adoptees are more prone to problems than their nonadopted peers.

Reunions For those mothers, fathers and adopted persons who attempt reunions, the difficulties are not automatically resolved. For some, contact vetoes can prevent reunions altogether. Of those who do meet, building a relationship can be hard work. The parents and their adult child must negotiate various issues and complexities caused by the forced adoption and, while some are able to do so, others are not. A happy ending is not guaranteed.